This week's Worth Reading includes an analysis of Apple's App Store and how it could be improved; Microsoft's user interface design goals with Windows 8 and new technology that could bring more customized commercials to the iPad.
Is Apple's App Store clogged by 'Abandonware'?
Apple’s App Store changed the way software is delivered to mobile devices and quickly become a model copied by others.
But what have developers and publishers learned along the way since the App Store’s debut four years ago? Macstories, has a nice roundup of insights and charts showing the growth of apps available for both the iPhone and iPad.
There are now over 600,000 apps available on the App Store, with 200,000 of those designed specifically for the iPad. Think back to July 21, 2008 when the App Store had a mere 900 apps available for download; a year later that number hit a seeming meteoric 65,000, but more than tripled by May 3, 2010 to 200,000 apps on the App Store (5,000 for iPad).
This past March, Apple announced the 25 billionth app download at the App Store.
But behind all the gaudy numbers, it’s not always easy for publishers to make themselves known or, more specifically, crack the coveted top 100 list. On the flip side, discovery issues can keep users from finding what may be the best app for the task at hand - be it gaming or business.
The Macstories piece has an interesting discussion of “abandonware” apps that live at the App Store but haven’t been updated or maintained by the developers. There’s also the fact that the 600,000 figure includes multiple versions of the same app that may show up in “lite” or “free” versus “pro” and “paid” versions.
There is further discussion of discovery apps and tips as well as what developers would like to see Apple do to help provide better filters and ways to make their programs more accessible.
How we got to Windows 8
Microsoft’s latest Building Windows 8 blog details the history of the Windows user interface, leading up to the design decisions that went into Windows 8. The post was written by Jensen Harris, director of program management on the Windows 8 User Experience team. In an introduction, Microsoft’s head of Windows 8 development, Steve Sinofsky, notes the Consumer Preview release of the new OS has drawn both praise and criticism:
“Designing a new release of a product already used by a billion people in a billion different ways is, as we say, like ordering pizza for a billion people. Doing so out in the open encourages this dialog, and we embrace and value it,” he said.
Jensen notes planning the user experience of Windows 8 started in mid-2009, in “a pre-iPad world.”
In a section headed “Goals of the Windows 8 user experience” he talked up the “fast and fluid” design of the software:
“Fast and fluid represents a few core things to us. It means that the UI is responsive, performant, beautiful, and animated. That every piece of UI comes in from somewhere and goes somewhere when it exits the screen. It means that the most essential scenarios are efficient, and can be accomplished without extra questions or prompts. It means that things you don’t need are out of the way.
“It also implies to us a certain feeling of fluidity or weightlessness in using Windows. For instance, swiping from the edge of the screen with your finger to bring up controls feels fluid and natural and pleasing. The human finger is designed for that kind of motion! For example, dragging down from the top of the screen to close an app, or dragging a tile to the bottom of the screen to invoke zoom and then moving it to a distant part of the Start screen feels satisfying to do, in addition to being efficient.”
Custom commercials coming to iPad?
Chicago’s Daily Herald reports on some new ad technology for the iPad that will be shown at a tradeshow this week. The multi-screen TV advertising tech, a creation of Tellabs and SeaChange International, will be shown at the Cable Show trade expo in Boston.
The new technology aims to makes sure a consumer sees ads that are relevant to him or her while streaming video over the Internet to a TV, tablet or smartphone, said Tellabs spokesman George Stenitzer.
For example, if you like gardening, you'll see ads about gardening, instead of ads about other things, like mortgages, that you'd consider irrelevant. As for privacy concerns Stenitzer says the software looks at what you're browsing, creates an anonymous profile and maps it to categories of people's interests.
While giving consumers relevant ads on the Internet isn’t new, Tellabs and SeaChange say their offering brings new capability to mobile networks, such as on an iPad, and for the so-called “over-the-top” video, such as Hulu and ESPN, that is streamed through the Internet to the TV.